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I understand the general idea of compensated nuts to produce more variance in the string lengths, and thus better intonation over a wider range of fretting positions, but the Buzz Feiten system I see advertised on guitars and as an aftermarket mod that can be done to your guitars seems to be much more. Or is it?

There's the sale of Feiten-system tuners that makes me wonder if there's more to the system. You see this advertised as a feature on tuners from Planet Waves and as a mode that can be selected on tuners from Petersen. What is it about the Feiten tuning system that requires something special of a tuner? What is that something special?

That it's available on locking-nut equipped guitars puzzles me. Is the nut still asymmetrical?

Is the Feiten system just a compensated nut or is there more to it?

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I have a Buzz Feiten Tuned Garrison Acoustic guitar (they used BFTS on all their Canadian-built models I believe, it's not a retrofit). From inspection, the nut is actually normal, its the bridge saddle that is cut to compensate string lengths. The B string has the longest scale length (like on many acoustic bridge saddles), followed by the high E and low E strings which are both a bit shorter. The three remaining strings are the same length. So its mostly a normal looking saddle, but with small offsets cut in it to lengthen both of the E strings and the B string scales by a small amount. –  Charles Sep 9 at 5:11

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

It's good to know that the only thing that actually is patented about this product is the so called "mathematical formula", which basically in this case means how to tune and intonate the guitar.

The BFTS tuners can calculate this difference and hence give you the right tuning. Here is a table from the patent nr: 5,955,689. Basically this says how many cents off you shold tune and intonate the guitar. So what the BFTS tuner gives (which has to be accurate for this to work) is the offset from the standard tuning. This is for an electric guitar but there are different tables for different guitars...

    string | open | 12th fret
       E   |   0  |    0
       b   |  +1  |    0
       G   |  -2  |   +1
       D   |  -2  |   +1
       A   |  -2  |    0
       E   |  -2  |    0

The other thing is the nut shelf that is moved a bit, but this is already done on many new guitars (e.g. PRS).

There are also some cheaper models out there. For example: eNut or earvana

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I have only used one guitar with the Feinten kit, and it wasn't anything more than what you get with any decent guitar anyway: string lengths accurately measured to take into account the variation in tension, thickness etc. It made a cheap guitar stay in tune across the entire fretboard, but I would recommend buying a better, if more expensive, guitar to do the job better.

To see a wonderful implementation of this, check out this Chris Larkin made 9 string bass - I wouldn't like to try and paly it, but apparently Freddie can!

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1  
Better to have more on what it is and what it does, less on your opinion of the system's uses. –  VarLogRant Feb 28 '11 at 22:59
    
@varlogrant- my first sentence pretty much described what it is and what it does. My opinion:it is really basic and I can't imagine a real need for it. Good guitarist don't need it to stay in tune and beginners probably won't buy it as it is overkill for them. –  Dr Mayhem Mar 1 '11 at 11:19
    
Your opinion of it is solid, and I largely agree. I am kinda curious about the Feiten thing, but it will not be a huge factor in my next purchase. But the question isn't "Is it worth it?" but "What is it?", and I didn't think you touched that part. –  VarLogRant Mar 2 '11 at 12:28

The Feiten system is a system, more than just a nut modification. Part of it is that there is more wiggle room allowed in the tuning of a perfect fourth or fifth than there is for a major third. The system uses this wiggle to get more in tune. The nut modification addresses the bending of the bigger strings into the low frets pulling them sharp, but the system is more than the nut.

Here's an explanation from Buzz Feiten's site. The shelf nut is there to eliminate sharp notes on the first three frets. The suggested way to tune if you don't have a tuner blessed with the Feiten sweetening is to tune every E ( open on 1st string, fifth fret on 2nd string, 9th fret on G string, etc.)

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Can you add some more detail to this? There's a compensated nut and then a procedure to follow when tuning? Is that the sum of it? –  Ian C. Feb 28 '11 at 23:06
    
Looking into it. Will add when I have something. –  VarLogRant Feb 28 '11 at 23:44
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As I understand it, Feiten is the nut, the saddle and how the frets are crowned. My '69 Martin D35 is in the shop for one, to correct issues from the factory back then and my tech went over the changes he'd have to make. Because it's such an old guitar he's trying to avoid any unreversible changes. –  the Tin Man Dec 31 '13 at 5:09
2  
The Martin's back and the BFTS has helped a lot; Getting the guitar tuned is more finicky, probably because I'm having to tune differently, but it sounds great once I get it there. Chords and open-chords are in tune past the twelfth fret now. It was a totally reversible change to an original guitar that had a badly placed bridge right from the factory. Awesome! –  the Tin Man Jan 24 at 16:32

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